China Business

China for Business Goes Beyond Beijing and Shanghai

Qingdao China

China Business Blog just did a post on China’s best cities for foreign business, appropriately entitled, New Cities On The Block [link no longer exists].  The post starts out discussing a recent Forbes Magazine ranking that sets out China’s Best Places in China for Business, as follows:

  1. Hangzhou
  2. Ningbo
  3. Dalian
  4. Shanghai
  5. Wenzhou
  6. Beijing
  7. Suzhou
  8. Wuxi
  9. Shaoxing
  10. Shenzhen

The Economist Magazine’s Business Intelligence Unit did its own China city ranking, based on economy, “market opportunities,” labour market, infrastructure, and environment (mostly air quality) and its top ten ranking was as follows:

  1. Shanghai
  2. Guangzhou
  3. Beijing
  4. Hangzhou
  5. Nanjing
  6. Shenzhen
  7. Tianjin
  8. Qingdao
  9. Xiamen
  10. Ningbo
  11. Suzhou
  12. Fuzhoo
  13. Chengdu
  14. Dalian
  15. Foshan

China Business Blog sees these rankings as making clear “that, just as the China story has moved on from being just about low-cost exports to being about added value and domestic consumption, those safe, comfortable havens of Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou increasingly represent the tip of the (fast-growing) iceberg.”

We concur.

13 responses to “China for Business Goes Beyond Beijing and Shanghai”

  1. Glad to see Shaoxing on the list, that city is a true gem! BTW, how could they overlook Jinan?
    And does Suzhou have it’s own airport yet? Yeah it’s close to Sh but…
    I agree totally with the idea that mid-tier cities are great places for businesses, and especially for the those without a lot of cash and looking to start a small enterprise. Sh and BJ are overrun with bright people trying to “make it” while a little bit of pluck (and a larger bit of language ability) could carry the day in Shaoxing, Jinan, etc. The ability to get Guinness on tap and buy imported maple syrup for $US 12(!) will keep most people gravitating towards the big three for a while yet, though.
    Besides the obvious things, what might be helping Suzhou is that it has become a weekend escape for a lot of Shanghai worker bees – too much of one in some people’s opinion – and I wonder with the new bridge will Ningbo become a third option?

  2. James G,
    Jinan. I have been to Jinan. Jina is no Suzhou or Qingdao. Seems to me the air pollution there is considerably worse than even Beijing. Why are you such a big fan?

  3. What? China exists outside of SH and BJ? Someone tell all the self-anointed China pundits!
    Seriously though, I really expected to see Shenzhen up around the top three – it really was the earliest opener, has huge industry, and still has beau coup growth potential. Nanjing ahead of Shenzhen? I’ve lived in both cities and I think that’s way out there – I guess SZ must have lost out on air quality. Both cities belong in the top ten, but Shenzhen has muchos puntos (or whatever the Spanish word for points is) ahead of NJ, including recruitment potential (despite all the universities in NJ), as well as logistics (with HK right next door, that’s a lock) – but check out both cities for sure.

  4. Dan,
    Jinan… I haven’t been there in 5 years, but it is still near and dear to my heart. Amazingly polluted air? Yup! However, that was the first city I’d lived in outside of the Americas, and it had a lot of “gee whiz” appeal: the narrow, neat commercial alleyways; street food kiosks; dedicated and well-populated bike lanes (I am big into bikes as a means of transport) vendors selling plastic grocery bags full of ice-cold beer which people would drink right on the street… Jinan was where I began my Chinese studies. It was mind-boggling that a city of 5 million could be little more than a junior-varsity, provincial capital. This was before Anthony Bourdain, but when I see him eating his way through Singapore or Ghana I can remember my thrill at the amazing variety of ultra-cheap, tasty eats. Plus I love crawfish, and the Jinanren ate them like there was no tomorrow, awesome!
    Strangely enough, my arrival and 2 day stayover in Beijing didn’t do much for me.
    I just recently complete a project with a coworker who was from Jinan, and she found it amusing that I knew her hometown so well. Apparently I have fond memories about the El Paso of China, haha.
    I remember reading in a post that Steve spent a few years in Shandong; in Zibo, wasn’t it? I felt Shandong was an excellent place to study Chinese, I’m guessing that is why he was there?
    I don’t know Zibo, but I’m guessing it’s hardcore “real” China.

  5. James G,
    Since you confessed a bias, I will do the same. Last time I was in Jinan, I had to leave by 6.5 hour bus to Qingdao, because the high speed train was down. That sort of thing does not engender me to a place.
    I am a big fan of Shandong and its seafood also.
    Steve spent time in Zibo because he was working with a glass factory there. Zibo is the definitely the “real” China, which Steve probably would define as a city where the top nightclubs have moving floors. Steve was already way fluent in Chinese by the time he was in Zibo.
    Steve now spends much of his time in Qingdao, where he has an apartment.
    I went to El Paso once and was not terribly impressed. I remember looking out my plane window and being shocked at the utter lack of anything green.

  6. Have to say I too disagree on the missing out of Shandong province cites on the list. The province is 2. in the 2007 GDP per capital among Chinese provinces and has very friendly reputation within and outside of China, but then again these lists are really just hidden advertising for those who make them

  7. This Law blog is a good read. I first came to Asia with a diplomatic passport in the middle of the last century, later served with Special Forces in Vietnam, and have worked with Asians ever since. So what I write here will perhaps seem a bit out of the normal envelope: Let me suggest that in certain ways, Nanjing deserves a higher rating. Its down sides are hot summers and cold winters. But its upside is unique. Because of the Nanjing Massacre not all that long ago, Nanjing does not have the slightly hyper arrogance of Shanghai, nor that big-government-town weightiness of Beijing. More importantly, the people here are, on average, very lively, yet a little more low key, patient, and wiser than the Chinese norm. This pays well of for companies that build to last.

  8. @C. Wood,
    On the down-side, NJ has high real-estate prices compared to average income, lacks the kind of local culture you find in cities like Guangzhou, and is somewhat conservative in outlook. But yeah, it’s not a bad place to hang out.

  9. For those who are interested, the ones after Foshan in the EIU list are:
    16. Wuxi 17. Zhuhai 18. Wuhan 19. Wenzhou 20. Quanzhou 21. Yantai 22. Shenyang 23. Jinan 24. Taiyuan 25. Haikou 26. Changsha 27. Hefei 28. Huizhou 29. Zhengzhou 30. Nantong 31. Nanchang. 32. Kunming 33. Changzhou 34. Xi’an 35. Yangzhou 36. Tangshan 37. Harbin 38. Chanchun 39. Chonqing 40. Luoyang 41. Guiyang 42. Nanning 43. Weifang 44. Shijiazhuang.
    So one or two Shandong cities in there after all! Guangzhou also has surprisingly good pollution figures (according to government data), but both it and Shenzhen score poorly on top level higher education facilities, which drags down their overall ranking.

  10. As a side note, some of these “cities” have millions in population and massive land area, larger than some countries. Within these cities themselves one could find huge differences in cost and opportunities.

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